My Experience at MIT’s Hack for Inclusion
This past weekend I had the pleasure of participating in Hack for Inclusion at MIT. The event focuses on inviting attendees and organizes them into groups to resolve prompts that challenge participants to solve issues that would promote inclusivity and diversity.
I was paired with a group of individuals of varied experience, backgrounds, and different personalities. Our prompt was: How do we produce long-term, sustainable improvements in early career development, retention, and promotion opportunities for women in STEM to move closer to gender equity in corporate settings?
The hackathon was very well organized and broken into a thorough process – there was less of a focus on actual “hacking” as is typical of these type of events and more of a drive for research and design thinking.
The first day was spent team building, researching, conducting user interviews, and brainstorming ideas. MIT did a great job of breaking up these long periods of research with break out games like rock, paper, and scissors tournaments.
On the second and final day we began prototyping our idea. We had decided to move forward with a match-making mentorship app for STEM companies. This application would allow mentors and mentees alike to apply to work with one another, it would help promote men and women to working together (paired by their compatibility and the objective of the mentorship) which would help establish relationships, provide advocates, and help promote career development for women mentees and their mentor counterparts. In the time left we were able to create a design prototype that shows the mentee sign up and match results flow. We named the application ment2connect : a play on words with meant and the prefix of mentor.
My team was randomly selected to present first – within a three minute pitch. In our presentation we showcased the need for mentorships, how they benefit to retain female STEM employees as well as promote their careers, and showcased screens from the prototype to show our work.
Following the pitches we had a casual reception while judges deliberated. At the award ceremony Team “Guidr” placed first as they were able to showcase their prototype that works to help assist the blind with public transportation using a sensor, GPS, and mobile application. Following the award ceremony we reflected on the weekend’s accomplishments and closed.
Overall, the Hack for Inclusion hackathon was incredibly challenging and engaging event. It was also empowering and rewarding to work with my team and witness other teams work to create solutions for promoting diversity and fighting against bias and exclusivity. I hope to see many teams continue to develop their ideas and strive for a more inclusive world and community.
Return to Blog